Pumpkin Mousse

It’s lighter than traditional pumpkin pie, so there is always room for it; it’s great for those of you that are lactose intolerant or gluten free; and most importantly, it only takes a few minutes to make.  Yes.  A part of your Thanksgiving preparations that can be made in less than five minutes.


You can see the recipe at my new blog here:  Craveable with Chef Jess


Lemon Chili Pasta

lemonspaghettiI first posted this recipe a few years ago and decided to re-post it because it has such a special place in my stomach heart.  I love the ease of preparing it.  It can be done in 10 minutes, start to finish, including the time to cook the pasta. It’s so delicious that several friends will stop over just because they heard I was making it or some even go so far as to demand that I make it for them when they are in town!  This Lemon Chili Pasta, based off of a recipe from Fabio Viviani, is so fast and easy, it will quickly become a go-to dish in the kitchen and the main reason that you will want to always stock lemons and parsley in your fridge.  (If it’s not the reason, it’s sure an easy way to use them up before they go bad!)  You can make it any night of the week and it would pair well with any fish, chicken, or pork.  Top it off with some freshly grated Parmesan cheese and serve with a fresh salad and/or a crisp glass of wine and you have the makings of a fabulous night in!

If you can’t take the heat, or are trying to make it a little more kid friendly add the chili flakes at the end.

Lemon Spaghetti with Chilies, Garlic and parsley

Serves 4


  • 1 lb Spaghetti
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 3 Tbsp Butter
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 6 Garlic Cloves, minced or grated
  • 2 Lemons, Zested or grated
  • 1 tsp of Red Chili flakes
  • 1 cup pasta water (reserved from cooking pasta)
  • 1/2 cup of parlsey


Cook the pasta according to package directions in well salted water until al dente and reserve 1 cup of pasta water when straining.

In large pan over medium heat,  cook the garlic, lemon, chili flakes, salt, and pepper in the oil and butter until the garlic starts to foam.  Whisk in the water, slowly and it will start to form a creamy looking sauce.  Add the pasta and parsley and toss until well coated.  Enjoy!

Panko Parmesan Green Beans

Panko Green BeansI do love green bean casserole, but I always feel a little guilty after eating it.  Now please understand that I am not claiming my version to be “light,” but it’s at least a little lighter and brighter in flavor and not swimming in sodium-filled condensed soup.  (The holiday hams will have enough of that.)  A bonus to this recipe is that the ingredients can all be mixed inside the casserole dish, and you can save time by baking it at the same time as the ham.  Panko Parmesan Green Beans are made by tossing fresh beans with olive oil, fresh minced garlic, and a pinch of salt and pepper.  Then they are sprinkled with Italian seasoned panko bread crumbs and shredded parmesan cheese then baked for 30 minutes.  They were also a big hit with the boys.  I described them as green beans sprinkled with cheesy garlic bread…that was all it took!  They quickly disappeared.  I was pretty proud of myself for coming up with that description, which is sure to even convince picky adults to try it!

Panko Parmesan Green Beans

  • 4 cups (estimated) of fresh cut green beans
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 1.5 tablespoons fresh garlic paste.  (found in the fresh herb section of the grocery store in a tube) or 2 cloves of fresh garlic, minced fine
  • 1/2 cup Italian Panko Breadcrumbs
  • 1/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese


In a 9×9 casserole dish, combine the beans, olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic.  Toss until coated evenly.  Sprinkle the mixtures with panko bread crumbs and parmesan cheese.  Toss to coat the beans again and bake at 375 for 30 minutes.


Pesto Bacon Potato Skins

Superbowl Sunday is here and we have most of our spread figured out.  Queso, chicken wings, and potato skins.  We are making three different flavors of potato skins three ways this year.  Classic with cheddar and bacon, pizza, and one my new favorites, Pesto Bacon.  I love the tastes of the fresh basil and garlic on the warm potato skins.  Delicious!


Pesto Bacon Potato Skins

  • 6 medium red potatoes, baked, halved and scooped out (leaving about 1/4 inch of potato  on the skins)
  • 1/ 2 cup basil pesto
  • 1/3 cup bacon, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup diced fresh tomatoes


Preheat oven to 375.  Place potato skins, cut side up in a baking pan.  Brush with pesto sauce, sprinkle with bacon and Parmesan cheese.  Bake for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is golden brown.  Remove from oven and top with diced tomatoes.  Enoy!

Coconut Almond Protein Fudge

So it’s been quite awhile since my last blog post, but it’s been a crazy last couple months!  I changed jobs, traveled nearly 1 month over the summer for work, moved houses, and, oh yeah…….I am getting married in less than a week!  I gotta keep this short because, of course, I still have a million things to do, but I wanted to share one of my healthier recipes that has been getting me through the last couple months and will for sure be making more appearances in the future!  This Coconut Almond Protein Fudge uses avocados to ensure the rich taste without all of the guilt that is in typical fudge.  This fudge is meant to be served frozen because it won’t “set” otherwise, so just whip this up in the food processor and pop it into the freezer for 2-4 hours.  Word to the wise:  Use a hot knife to cut it, and don’t let it sit on the counter too long.  (I don’t have a problem with that in my house!)


Coconut Almond Protein Fudge

  • 3 ripe Avocados
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut flavored almond milk (or milk of choice)
  • 6 scoops (or 3 packages) IsaLean Protein Powder in Dutch Chocolate
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1/2 cup crushed almonds (I lightly roasted them in the oven first for added crunch and depth of flavor)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons honey or agave nectar.  (I have tried stevia, but it does leave an aftertaste)



Place the avocado flesh, cocoa powder, chocolate protein powder, agave, and sea salt in the food processor and blend until smooth.  Add the coconut flake and almonds.  Pulse just until combined.  Pour into freezer safe glass dish.  Freeze for 2-4 hours or until set.  To serve, cut with a hot knife.  Keep frozen.



“Fried” Green Beans

Last night I decided to do a little experimenting in making one of my favorite appetizers….Fried Green Beans!  I love the idea of eating green beans as a snack, but I feel a little guilty because they are fried.  It leaves me a little conflicted.  Does it count as a vegetable if it is dripping in grease?  My baked version still has the bread-like coating, but they are so much crunchier than their fried counter parts.  Serve them with a little pizza sauce and it’s a sure way to sneak a serving of vegetables in for the day!





“Fried” Green Beans

  • 24 green beans, washed and trimmed
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup Bisquick baking mix
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 cups Italian Seasoned Panko Bread Crumbs
  • 1/2 cup pizza sauce


Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  In a small bowl, combine egg, milk, Bisquick, and garlic powder.  Whisk with a fork until smooth.  Pour bread crumbs into a shallow bowl.  Dip each bean into the Bisquick mixture, let the excess drip off and then roll in the bread crumbs.  Lay beans onto a sprayed baking sheet and bake for 15 minute or until golden brown.  Serve with pizza sauce.



Sweet & Spicy Braised Kale

Kale has become a favorite in my house.  Most of the time it’s served in the form of kale chips for a guilt free late night snack,  but lately I have been adding this incredibly easy and good for you side dish to our menus.  I love the combination of sweet & spicy and the contrast of the tender kale with crunchy almonds.  Occasionally, I have even been lucky enough to find bags of pre-cleaned and torn kale to make this dish even quicker!






Sweet & Spicy Braised Kale

  • 6 cups fresh kale, washed and torn, tough stems removed
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil (or olive oil)
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1.5 tablespoons garlic, fresh grated
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons agave nectar (or honey)
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted



In a large saute pan using high heat, saute coconut oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add white wine, water, vinegar, agave and kale.  Let braise, stirring occasionally until all the liquid is dissolved and kale is desired level of doneness. (about 2-3 minutes)  Season with kosher salt, using more if needed.  Sprinkle with toasted almonds

Serves 4.


(Almost)Guiltless Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bars!

It’s been a few years since I posted my black bean brownie recipe, so I thought I would finally get around to testing out another idea I had.  What if I used pinto or white beans to make a delicious base for cookie dough bars?!

I have always been fond of beans.  My father and brother are bean farmers, so it was something that we have always used in our cooking.  More recently, I have become more aware of food allergens because several family members have discovered they are allergic to gluten and a future nephew (and possibly myself) with egg allergies.  The beans in this recipe serve as an alternative to flour without having to use on of those fancy baking mixes.  They also have many health benefits because they are high in protein, fiber, B vitamins, folate, and potassium.  The chia seeds, or flax seed if you prefer, also have many health benefits and are a great substitute for eggs in baked goods.   I have been using them for that off and on for a few years and haven’t run into a single problem with it.  The ratio to use is 1 tablespoon finely ground chia or flax seeds to 3 tablespoons of water.  They can easily be ground in a coffee grinder, but a blender will work too.  In this recipe, I do use a lesser amount, but that is accounted for by adding extra moisture elsewhere.

Alright….enough of the healthy stuff.  How do they taste?  The answer is DELICIOUS, but that was the tricky part.  I found a balance for the fat, by using 1/2 applesauce and coconut oil instead of the usual butter that found in all of the great cookie doughs.  I did have a slight worry that it wouldn’t taste enough like cookie dough, so I added 1/4 teaspoon of imitation butter flavoring, but this ingredient can easily be left out.  Quick oats (which can be found gluten free) where used for texture and as a binder for the bars and vanilla, dark brown sugar, and semi sweet chocolate chips were added because they are the best parts of cookie dough bars!

We ate these warm out of the oven with whipped cream as a bedtime snack.  They were not able to be pickup up like a true bar, but my son and I were both very pleased with the results and I hope you are too! Warm, gooey, chocolate goodness!

(Almost) Guiltless Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bars

  • 2-15 cans pinto or white beans, drained, rinsed really well
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds, finely ground and mixed with 3/4 cup water
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup applesauce, unsweetened
  • 1.5 cups dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespooon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups quick oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon iodized salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon imitation butter flavor
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips


Place all ingredients except the chocolate chips in a food processor.  Blend until smooth.  (about 1 minute) Scrap down the bowl and blend for 15 seconds.  Remove from the processor bowl and place in a medium  sized mixing bowl.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Place in a greased 9×13 pan. Bake for 45 minutes or until the edges look darkened and start to pull away from the sides of the pan.  Let stand for 15 minutes before serving.  (can remain in pan longer if you like….it’s just to help the bars set before serving)


Spinach & Ricotta Ravioli with Diavolo Sauce

Looking for a last minute dinner that’s sure to impress?  Try this pasta!  Making homemade ravioli doesn’t have to be difficult.  Of course, I love a true homemade pasta, but if you don’t have the time, patience, or equipment, use wonton wrappers!  This is a fun project for kids to help with too and the filling combinations are endless.  I like to add the spinach because, not only is it colorful, but it’s also an easy and delicious way to get your leafy greens in for the day.

The Diavolo sauce, although the meaning is brother devil, it’s a great way to spice up Valentine’s day!  It’s also really easy because your oven does most of the work for you.  You will able to spend more time with your loved ones, young or old, and enjoy the night.  This recipe is sure to be a keeper!  (even if your date isn’t!)

Spinach & Ricotta Ravioli with Diavolo Sauce (for 4)

For the Pasta

  • 32 wonton wrappers
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 7 ounces spinach, fresh, cooked until wilted,  cooled and chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder (or more to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper

For the Sauce

  • 2 – 8 ounce packages of grape tomatoes
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (more if desired, but let it simmer first)


To make the sauce:  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a 9×13 baking pan, combine grape tomatoes, bell pepper pieces and olive oil.  Stir to coat the vegetables.  Season with garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper.  Roast in oven for 30 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let cool to the touch.  Place the vegetables in the food processor or blender.  Puree until sauce is desired texture.  (I usually do about 5 seconds because I like mine with a little texture).  In a medium sauce pan using high heat, reduce 1 cup of red wine in half.  Add tomato mixture and reduce heat to medium low.  Add red pepper flakes and cook until heated through.  Let simmer until pasta is ready.

To make the pasta:  In a medium size mixing bowl, combine once cup ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, 1 egg, fresh garlic, salt, and pepper.  Set aside.  In a small bowl, combine egg and 1/2 cup water.  whisk until combined.  Set aside.  Bring salted water to boil in pasta pot.  Place one wonton wrapper cutting board and place 1 tablespoon of filling in the center of the wrapper.  Using a pastry brush, brush the edges with egg wash.  Place another wrapper over the top and press firmly to seal.  Repeat as many times as needed.

Once the water comes to a boil, reduce the heat slightly.  Place the filled ravioli, one at a time, into the boiling water.  Do not over crowd the pot and cook in batches if needed.  The ravioli will initially sink to the bottom of the pot.  When it comes to the surface and the pasta appears to pucker around the filling and become translucent, it is done.  (about 3 minutes)

Remove the ravioli with a slotted spoon, top with warm pasta sauce and serve.


Citrus & Rosemary Roasted Butternut Squash

Most of  you are now planning your menus for holiday dinners.  Some of you are looking to stick with the traditional recipes and other are looking to try something new.  How about trying this very simple and delicious Citrus & Rosemary Roasted Butternut Squash?  Its the perfect mix of old and new.  To make this dish you can either cube your own squash left from fall harvest or you can go the time saving route and use the fully prepped and diced butternut squash in the coolers of your produce section.  It is often store next to the bagged salads or pre-chopped onions, carrots, or pepper mixes.

Roasting the squash in the oven is a great way to get kids to eat it too because it helps to bring out the natural sugars and gives the squash a sweeter taste than if you had boiled or steamed it.  Plus, there not all the work of having to clean more than one pot of pan.  That’s my idea of a great holiday recipe!

Citrus & Rosemary Roasted Butternut Squash

  • 2 pounds butternut squash, peeled and 1-2 inch cubed
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons orange zest
  • 2 tablespoons chopped rosemary, fresh
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Combine all ingredients in a resealable plastic bag.  Seal the bag and gently toss it until all the squash is evenly coated.  Pour the mixture out onto a rimmed cookie sheet.  Bake for 30 minutes of until the squash is a dark golden brown and cooked through.  Turn the squash over halfway through the baking.